Last Friday in Folkston, It was a game of two halves, as the pigskin bounced the Red Devils' way the first two quarters, and the home team's way the second half. Overtime settled the playoff contest, 23-22 in Charlton County's favor after being tied at 16 at the end of four quarters.
This "rebuilding" season, by most accounts, has been successful. Last summer, few expected the Devils to do as well as they did this season, what with a new head coach and only ten seniors on the team.
Under first year head coach Kevin Banks, and with new faces on the coaching staff, the Devils won five straight games. Those included extending decades-long winning streaks over Warren County, Hancock Central, McCormick, and GMC. They almost pulled off a huge upset of #1 Aquinas in the battle for the Region 7-A subregion B championship.
They did upset Stratford Academy, the defending GISA Class AAA champ, the following week, and almost stunned 20-point favorite Charlton County this past Friday.
The Devils extended their state record to 41 consecutive years earning a playoff berth. They have won at least seven games in 41 of the last 42 seasons. This was the 42nd consecutive non-losing season for the Red Devils.
All this was done while starting several freshmen and sophomores. While the current seniors will certainly be missed next year, the future is indeed very bright for the Lincoln County football program.
After short first drives by both teams, Charlton County drove to the LC 36 before punting to the LC 22. The Devils drove to the Indian 5 on 12 plays, with a 43-yard run by senior QB LaKeith Lockhart being the long-gainer. Ryan O'Neill booted a 24-yard field goal with 11:09 left in the half.
On the following kickoff, the Indians failed to field the kick and the Devils recovered at the 25. Big Red gained one first down before Norman scored from eight yards out with 7:59 left before halftime. O'Neill's kick gave the Devils a 10-0 advantage.
Late in the second quarter, Charlton blocked a Devil punt and took over at the LC 21. Two plays gained a first down at the LC 6. After the Devils stopped the Indian rusher for no gain, Marquis Leverett grabbed a pass attempt and scurried down the home sideline with Indians on the warpath behind him. He won the 99-yard race to the endzone as time expired. The PAT kick failed, but the Devils led 16-0 at the half.
Lincoln County spent most of the second half defending its goal line. On three possessions the Devils stopped the Indians inside the LC 20, including eight plays from inside the LC 7. After stopping the Indians on downs at the LC 4 as the third quarter ended, the Devils fumbled the pigskin back to the home team at the LC 2. An illegal procedure penalty nullified an Indian TD, and then the Devils stopped Charlton on four plays to end the threat.
Lincoln then ran the ball to the 15 where the ballcarrier was hit and the pigskin popped into the air. The Indians grabbed the ball and returned it to the endzone for their first points of the night. Their two-point conversion was successful, cutting the Devils' lead in half, 16-8, with 9:57 left in regulation.
The Devils managed one first down on their possession, running four minutes off the clock before the drive fizzled. After a punt, the Indians took over at their five yard line with 5:50 left. They ran 20 plays, scoring on a 22-yard pass to their running back. Five times during the drive the Devil Defense stopped the Indians on third down, but gave up just enough yards on fourth down for the drive to continue. The touchdown came on the last fourth down, with seven yards to go. The two-point conversion was good, evening the game with 29 seconds left.
The Devils picked up ten yards on their final drive in regulation before time ran out.
Lincoln County had the ball first in overtime, with senior Jamar Norman scoring on a three-yard drive. The PAT kick was blocked, leaving the score 22-16 with Charlton's opportunity to come.
The Indians scored on a two-yard run, again tying the score. Charlton's kick was good, securing the win 23-22 and advancing them to the quarterfinals against Hawkinsville.
Jamar Norman ran for 71 yards on 19 carries in the game. For the season, he rushed for 819 yards on 129 carries with 10 touchdowns. LaKeith Lockhart carried 11 times for 65 yards, increasing his season total to 538 yards on 92 carries with five TDs. For the year, Lockhart completed 27 of 55 pass attempts for 356 yards and 4 touchdowns.
For the game, Charlton ran 68 plays for 233 yards. The Devils had 49 plays for 174 yards. Yet, the Devils came oh-so-close to winning and advancing in the playoffs. Three straight games saw these Devils "over-achieve", and the community should be very proud of them and their coaches. GO DEVILS IN 2015!